Amrita Bagaria: A worthwhile and important tradition

We were incredibly excited last Friday when our event, the 41st annual Martha’s Marathon of Birthday Bargains, raised more than $28,000 for housing scholarships. So imagine our surprise to open up The Hatchet on Monday and find that the editorial board decided to label the event “an atrocity” (“Thumbs up/Thumbs down,” Feb. 27, p. 4).

Martha’s Marathon is a philanthropic effort that is one of the oldest GW traditions and has been sponsored by the Residence Hall Association for more than 40 years. Every dollar raised at the event goes toward housing scholarships. The generosity and support of the GW community at Martha’s allows individuals to help others who wish to continue living in residence halls.

Philanthropy, by definition, is done by those who have the means do it. This page cannot be simultaneously resentful of those students with money and upset when the money is spent at a philanthropic event. These are funds raised by students, for students, and make the on-campus experience at GW available to anyone who wants it.

More importantly, Martha’s Marathon is not just an auction for housing picks. It is not simply students with “means and affluence” who provide the money that is raised during the event. In fact, the no.1 housing pick is raffled for only a dollar, a contest in which anyone can participate. We hold live and silent auctions; this year we had 43 items in the silent auction and 21 items in the live auction. RHA does not depend exclusively on wealthy students bidding on housing numbers; in fact, we spent the majority of our time preparing and auctioning off items that weren’t housing picks.

While some protest how funds are raised, the fact of the matter is that every penny goes directly back to students. The Community Living and Learning Center and RHA do not benefit, nor do University administrators “capitalize on student desire.”

There are far too many actual “atrocities” in this world to slap that label on a philanthropic event. We would hope in the future that The Hatchet would take the time to learn more about a longstanding philanthropic institution at GW before labeling it “an atrocity” – especially if this paper sent no reporter to cover it.

-The writer, a senior majoring in economics and political science, is the president of the Residence Hall Association.

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